In the radiant city of Hollywood, California, where splendor, allure, and decadence abound, lies endless possibilities and opportunities. Drawn to this captivating city like a moth to a flame, Michael Oliver Best, the esteemed Manager of Champions, finds himself amidst the glitz and glamor. The multitude of high-end dining options, luxury clothing stores, and the open-mindedness of its people entice him greatly. Any excuse becomes sufficient for him to eagerly board a private jet and visit the Land of Better People.
On this particular occasion, his purpose for the fateful trip is to showcase his colossal, muscle-bound wrestling champion to a select group of film producers. The details of how this arrangement came to be remain a mystery. One thing is clear, however: Hollywood holds a genuine interest in the enigmatic King Stallion.
Pro wrestling has proven to be a reliable source of box office success for the movie industry over the past two decades—a winning formula. The strategy involves selecting a tall, muscular, charismatic individual with some acting ability and putting them in the hands of a director who knows how to accentuate their strengths and conceal their weaknesses. The goal is to secure the immensely popular STRONK! Godson before any competing production can seize the opportunity. It’s simply smart business.
In a sleek, high-rise boardroom nestled in the heart of Tinsel Town, three film executives anxiously await the arrival of STRONK! Godson. Their expressions reveal a mix of anticipation and detachment as they envision the raw power he will bring to their latest venture, captivating audiences worldwide.
Seated in the middle is Theodore (Ted) Kensington, a veteran in the cutthroat world of film and television. With graying temples and a perpetually stoic expression, he commands respect through staunch professionalism and intimidation. His employees despise him, and he couldn’t care less.
To Ted’s left sits Vivian Sinclair, a striking figure with platinum blonde hair and a flair for the dramatic. Her fashion-forward ensemble, featuring bold patterns and statement accessories, reflects her fearless creativity. Known for championing unconventional narratives and challenging the status quo, she is somewhat unenthusiastic about working with STRONK! Daddy, finding the prospect of collaborating with an athlete less appealing. Even his name alone makes her eyes involuntarily roll back in her skull.
Finally, Tobin Graywood, dressed in a perfectly tailored black suit, exudes suave confidence with a chiseled jaw and charismatic smile. He possesses an innate ability to cultivate relationships and effortlessly navigate the complex web of Hollywood politics. The quintessential dealmaker, he can turn a vision into reality with a well-timed handshake and a carefully crafted pitch.
Today, Tobin and his colleagues have three pitches, each more perfectly suited to the HOW World Champion than the last. Glancing at the 80-inch TV mounted on the wall, streaming a slide deck presentation from his tablet, he prepares to unveil their ideas.
Just then, Michael Oliver Best bursts into the room, his arms spread wide. “Gentlemen!” he exclaims, his eyes scanning the room until they land on the lone female present. With a shift in his attention, he adds, “and lady! Apologies for our tardiness; Mister Godson insisted on stopping for his third lunch on the way here. Trust me, you don’t want to meet him when he’s hungry.”
Tobin nods, a smile on his face. “No worries at all. We completely understand. I myself get a bit grumpy when I don’t have my morning bran muffin.”
“Grumpy?” MOB chuckles. “Mister Godson doesn’t get grumpy. He gets destructive. So, if you value any of the furniture in this room, you should be grateful that I fed him ribeyes before we arrived.”
“Of course,” interjects Vivian. She gestures towards a platter of deli meats and crackers. “Although we wouldn’t have let a promising young potential client go hungry, I assure you. We’re better hosts than that.”
Michael Oliver Best glances at the array of food and lets out a snigger. “Oh, don’t worry, every last bite of that spread will be devoured before we leave. However, for future reference, please understand that the quantity you’ve provided is insufficient. And I mean significantly insufficient. Immeasurably insignificant. Basically, if you think it’s too much, it’s probably not enough. You can also apply that same logic to any monetary negotiations we might have.” He gives a cheeky wink, but means everything he says.
Before MOB can offer a formal introduction, contrary to his manager’s explicit instructions to wait until called upon, STRONK! Godson rolls through the door on his hoverboard. Wearing nothing but a pair of red compression shorts and the HOW World Championship belt, he appears confused, panting heavily and drenched in sweat, having completed a series of squats while stationed in the hallway.
“HELLO. YES. STRONK! IS HERE. STRONK! DOES NOT KNOW WHY BUT YES STRONK! IS HERE.”
Michael Oliver Best gracefully takes a seat in one of the unoccupied chairs while Ted Kensington’s eyes follow STRONK! on his hoverboard, picking up where he left off with endless squats. MOB says, “I believe I speak for both of us when I say that we’re very excited to hear what you have in mind for the champ.”
Distracted by the catered food, STRONK! rolls over and begins stuffing fistfuls of meat into his mouth, completely forgetting the purpose of the meeting. Ted awkwardly responds, “That’s, uh… great… great to hear.”
Breaking the silence, Vivian chimes in, “We think you’re going to like what we’ve come up with. Tobin?” She then turns to Tobin, signaling him to move the PowerPoint presentation forward, revealing three hastily mocked-up movie posters with the film titles underneath. Tobin, using his tablet, advances the slides to showcase their concepts.
“Here are three projects that we believe perfectly suit Mister Godson’s persona and acting range. We don’t need to settle on one today; we just want to gauge your interest,” Tobin explains.
“We want you to feel passionate about the role, regardless of which one you choose,” Vivian adds.
“Absolutely,” MOB responds, jotting down quick notes with a Mont Blanc pen in his small leather notebook. “Go ahead. What do you have for us? What am I looking at?”
Tobin takes the lead, describing the first project called “Tarantula Prince.”
“Although the script is not yet complete, the basic premise is that it’s set in ancient Egypt, and revolves around a menacing antagonist–the big bad–seeking to bring about the end of the world, while the heroic Tarantula Prince aims to thwart their plans.”
To emphasize the concept, Tobin directs everyone’s attention to the poster depicting a shirtless image of STRONK! superimposed over an Egyptian landscape, with an exploding pyramid in the background.
“Seems heavily reminiscent of another film I’ve seen, though I can’t recall the name,” remarks Michael Oliver Best, raising his concern.
The three executives exchange puzzled glances, unsure of the reference. Tobin quickly responds, “I mean, sure, the hero’s journey is a well-trodden path, but the story–the plot–itself is new and novel.”
Vivian nods. “Yeah, I can’t think of another film similar to this. Ted?”
Deep in thought, Ted scratches his beard. “No, this has never been done before, that’s what makes it so exciting. We’ve also discussed a possible scene in the movie where our Tarantula Prince—that is to say, Mister Godson—turns into an actual tarantula.”
“Yeah,” Tobin interjects, “but a massive one! Not your everyday, ordinary, small tarantula.”
Vivian playfully asks, “Unless that interests you? Being small, I mean?”
“NO. BIG. STRONK! IS BIG. NOT SMALL,” STRONK! shout-talks, pieces of sliced ham falling from his mouth. He turns back around and continues to gorge.
“Big it is, then!” says Tobin. “But wait, let’s not fall in love at first sight, here! We have two more potential suitors! Both have completed scripts; they’re ready to go.”
Tobin, fuelled by enthusiasm, proceeds to introduce their next potential movie project, titled “The One True Voredon.”
“Now, get ready for something completely off-the-wall,” Tobin starts, drawing everyone’s attention. “In ‘The One True Voredon,’ we explore a parallel universe where sentient vegetables have taken over the world. Yes, you heard me right, sentient vegetables!”
Michael Oliver Best writes “veggies with brains? WTF?” in his notebook, circling it. Twice. Then drawing a star next to it.
“You see,” Tobin continues, barely containing his excitement, “our protagonist, played by Mister Godson, is a renowned chef who discovers a hidden talent for vegetable telepathy. He becomes ‘The One True Voredon,’ the chosen savior destined to unite the vegetable kingdom and humans.”
A stifled chuckle escapes Michael Oliver Best, but Tobin presses on, unabated by the unconventional concept.
“As the story unfolds, we dive into thrilling action sequences where Mister Godson’s character engages in epic vegetable battles, wielding kitchen utensils as weapons against the evil Broccoli Overlords. It’s a humorous, action-packed extravaganza that will have audiences on the edge of their seats!”
He pauses for a moment, allowing the absurdity of the idea to sink in before continuing.
“But wait, it gets even better,” Tobin continues. “In a pivotal twist, our hero must overcome his own fears and confront his arch-nemesis, the enigmatic Carrot Queen, who has the power to transform into a giant, menacing carrot that terrorizes cities. It’s a clash of culinary proportions!”
Michael Oliver Best can’t help but shake his head in disbelief, unable to fathom the absurdity of the proposed movie.
Vivian says, “As the script for ‘Voredon’ is already done-and-dusted, maybe you can explain, Tobin, how we envision the target audience for such an imaginative endeavor?”
Tobin, with unwavering confidence, responds, “We’re aiming for a broad demographic, embracing both fans of action-comedy and those with an appetite for the bizarre. It’s a wild ride that transcends traditional genres, appealing to viewers who enjoy a good laugh and don’t mind embracing the unconventional. There will also be a sexual undercurrent.”
Ted Kensington adds, “It’s one of the most creative concepts I’ve encountered in the film industry, and I’ve seen it all. It’s… bold.”
With a glimmer of mischief in his eyes, Tobin concludes, “Bold indeed, Ted. ‘The One True Voredon’ will be a cinematic experience like no other, pushing boundaries and challenging the norm. Just imagine the spectacle of STRONK! battling an army of sentient broccoli. It’s a recipe for success!”
Vivian takes a deep breath, ready to present their final movie concept, “Shovel Ass 2.” A sequel to a low-budget 70s art house film that no one, anywhere, has ever seen (aside from her), nor probably would want to see, that completely and totally diverges from its predecessor, begging the question, why make it to begin with?
“Prepare yourselves for a gripping tale,” Vivian announces, her voice resonating with intensity. “In a post-apocalyptic world plagued by relentless zombies, our hero, portrayed by Mister Godson, wields a shovel as his weapon of choice.”
Silence fills the room as the executives, fully immersed in their pitch, convey the gravity of their vision.
“This is not just any shovel,” Vivian continues. “It symbolizes resilience, survival, and the unyielding spirit of humanity. The shovel becomes a beacon of hope, a symbol of resistance against the encroaching darkness.”
Tobin interjects, his voice filled with conviction. “As our hero traverses the desolate wasteland, he encounters a group of survivors, each with their own unique skills and weapons. Together, they form an alliance, bound by the shared goal of reclaiming their world from the clutches of the undead.”
Ted, his eyes ablaze with fervor, adds, “Their journey is not just a fight for survival, but a battle for the very essence of humanity. They face unspeakable dangers, navigating treacherous landscapes and confronting morally ambiguous choices.”
“At its core, ‘Shovel Ass 2’ explores themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the indomitable human spirit,” Vivian states. “It’s an examination of the human condition in the face of unimaginable adversity.”
“We envision ‘Shovel Ass 2’ as a cinematic experience that challenges and inspires,” Tobin emphasizes. “It will be a testament to the strength of men and women pushed to the utter brink, reminding audiences of the capacity for courage and selflessness within us all.”
Ted concludes, “This is not just an action-packed zombie film; it is an exploration of our deepest fears, hopes, and the lengths we will go to protect what we hold dear. ‘Shovel Ass 2’ is a poignant reminder that even in the face of darkness, no matter how deeply buried you feel beneath the weight of the world, you can always… did yourself out.”
The room remains in hushed silence.
“I dunno, Mister Godson, what do you think?” MOB asks. He sees that his client is nearly finished scarfing down every last morsel of food, and holds up a finger, as if to signal to everyone to give STRONK! a second.
“About the roles.”
STRONK! looks at the table of food, or rather, what remains of it. He rubs his freshly buzzed head. “THERE ARE NO ROLLS. THERE WERE NO ROLLS. WHICH IS GOOD. STRONK! HATES BREAD.”
“No, Mister Godson,” MOB says, “the movie roles. Is there one that intrigues you?”
STRONK! turns and looks at the screen, examining each of the speculative movie posters with a keen eye. He stands in front of each for a few seconds, before standing off to the side, deliberating.
“YES. STRONK! HAS A QUESTION.”
“For me, or for them?” asks MOB, motioning to the executives.
“Okay. What is it?”
STRONK! looks from person to person, then at the movie posters again, before turning back to face the executives and his visibly annoyed manager.
“WHAT IS A MOVIE?”
Hours have since passed since the HOW World Champion, amidst being courted for what could potentially be a very lucrative payday (not that he cares a lick about any of that), posed the question: What is a movie?
STRONK! kind of understands pro wrestling. Kind of. He knows he’s paid some amount of money (though he never personally sees it and wouldn’t know what’s fair remuneration given his relative star power anyway) to pummel small, hollow-boned humans in front of strangers. These strangers, apparently, pay money to watch the pummelings he deals out. This occurs both in-person–strangers that STRONK! can see but has been instructed not to harm–and digitally–strangers that STRONK! cannot see but watch his life obsessively.
How? It’s never been explained to him (it has, many times).
STRONK! doesn’t know he’s a TV star. Because he doesn’t know what TV is. Moving images on a screen are difficult for him to decipher and keep track of. He’s like a dog; a TV barely registers for him. They’re like paintings that won’t simmer the fuck down and be still. He just knows that Papa Best likes it when he wins matches, is happy when he’s the champion, and wants him to do whatever his brother tells him.
In just a few short days, he teams up with Brother Ryan in a Tornado Tag Team Match, against a bunch of people he either hates or barely knows exist.
STRONK! wonders why he’s in some place that’s not Minnesota or Chicago being lectured about things he doesn’t understand, when he could be in his Sky House or at the Best Gym lifting heavy weights, grunting, snarling, and cutting mean promos about how Conor Fuse is the worst, or how Jace Parker Davidson is a liar and a snake, or how Evan Ward sucks because Coach Swolex says so.
But he can’t. Because he’s in Hollywood. Getting talked at by a bunch of NERDS.
He should be training, but instead he’s listening, and has been well into the night.
The dry erase board is littered with drawings, diagrams, words, some underlined, some crossed out. A mind map resides in the top right-hand corner of the board, with a bunch of concepts linking to the central word ‘film.’
There’s a bottle of booze open in the center of the boardroom table. Vivian frustratedly sucks on a vape, her feet propped up on another chair, high heels kicked off, as ‘over it’ as one could seemingly be.
Ted has since passed out, having drunk half the bottle of bourbon on the table. Fourteen years sober… down the drain. Wife’s gonna be pissed.
Ted stands next to the dry erase board, his shirt untucked, hair tousled and messy, eyes bloodshot. He points from thing to thing to thing on the board with a marker. “You see? You see how it all connects? The history? Technological innovation? The business of it all? Producers of content and the consumers of content? The medium IS the message? You understand?”
There’s a desperation in his voice, which has started to fail him after hours of talking, finding new and creative ways to further explain a topic he’s already explained a thousand times before. He looks at STRONK! expectantly, who’s still standing on his hoverboard, jostling slightly back and forth. Tobin’s expression pleads, ‘Please! Pleaaaaase! Tell me you get it! I want to go home! I want to kiss my wife and see my kids! I just want to be out of this god forsaken room!’
Seconds go by that feel like minutes.
STRONK!’s mouth opens:
“SO STRONK! … GOES BACK IN TIME … AND TIME IS A THING … AND BECOMES A NON-HUMAN WITH EIGHT LEGS … AND SAVES SOME NON-AMERICA PLACE … AND THAT IS IT. YES.”
“Well, no,” Tobin says, exasperatedly, “I mean, you don’t actually become the Tarantula Prince, we don’t… like… send you back in time for real, because that’s impossible, and even if it weren’t, why would we do that? … But yes, you learn the lines, you gain an understanding of the character, you act, we film, we jazz it up with some Malaysian CGI, push it out to thousands of theaters, make LOADS of money, you get rich, your manager Mister Best gets rich, and you become a huge star on a global level.”
“STRONK! …” STRONK! trails off, blinks, and stares at nothing.
“You lost him, Tobes,” MOB says, with a sigh. “You pushed too hard. Used too many words. Used the wrong words, too–I mean, c’mon, Malaysian? Three syllables? It’s over.”
After speaking about STRONK! like he’s not standing right there next to him, Michael Oliver Best turns to him, and asks, “Isn’t that right, Mister Godson?”
“STRONK! HAS BEEN SEPARATED FROM STRONK!’S DUMBBELLS FOR TOO LONG. STRONK! DOES NOT CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS. STRONK! WANTS TO BE STRONK! STRONK! IS THE CHAMPION AND HAS HUMANS TO SMASH!”
As STRONK! rolls towards the door to make his exit, Michael Oliver Best stands up, shaking a defeated Tobin’s hand. “I’m sorry about all of this. However, I know I can get him to come around on the idea. I’ll take a different approach: I won’t tell him shit.”
Tobin nods, a thousand yard stare in his eyes.
“Me, personally? I like the veggie wars idea, or whatever it was. STRONK! hates vegetables even more than he hates bread, so I’m sure I can get him on board with beating the hell out of some fucking turnips. I’ll tell him it’s a title defense in some PWA-affiliated promotion. He won’t ask questions, that I promise you… but we will need some flexibility on the dialogue.”
“O-Okay,” Tobin stutters, utterly shell-shocked.
“Great! We’ll be in touch!”